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Dead lawn front and back of house

JuliaboswellJuliaboswell Posts: 5
edited September 2020 in Tools and techniques
Hi, new to the forum.

We have a separate front and rear lawn in a semi detached property. The front lawn joins to the neighbours but the rear is bordered by shrubs, patio and bark area so is isolated. 

The lawns have never been great but grass always recovers after dry summers and boggy wet winters. Rear lawn is full on family garden with pool, games, dogs etc so is patchy and bumpy. 

We have also suffered with worm casts so for several years have had worm cast treatments. Last year we had the Sulfur pellet kind that lowers the ph to discourage the worms down. It’s worked but also “coincidentally” our lawn began to die after the 3rd application (6 weeks apart in Oct, Nov last year and Jan this year).

The company that put down the pellets says the product couldn’t cause the damage but, because both our rear and front lawns were both so drastically affected at exactly the same time, whilst the neighbours front lawn that joins ours was unaffected, we aren’t sure.

Have you ever heard of this happening? Is the Sulfur ph soil conditioning product capable of doing this, perhaps with a faulty batch?



  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,289
    I don't understand why anyone would put something chemical on a lawn to discourage worms. If you have worm casts  - just brush them off. 
    If you have kids, dogs etc and use a lawn a lot , it will never be 'perfect' anyway.
    If you live in an area that gets very little  rainfall, just leave the grass a bit longer too. 

    If it gets dried out in summer, and boggy in winter, it needs aerated as it will be very compacted - again, if you have a lot of people using it, that's pretty standard. 
    How heavily and how often you aerate depends on how bad it is. It can be done with a fork, with coarse sand put into the holes, or it can be done with an electric scarifier. 

    The worms are also doing that job for you.  :)

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • Thanks for the reply. But it is what it is and we have a dead lawn. The question is could a product like that cause this extreme total lawn kill in a matter of weeks (photos above are from mid Feb 2020)

    Could removing all worms from lawns (using this sulfur product) kill a lawn

    Here is another photo taken in May 2020 showing how it continued to die whilst we grew a new area. 

  • Ultimately we are trying to discover if this is a lawn treatment that can (under certain conditions or circumstances) cause irreversible and total lawn kill, so as to help others that this might happen to. 

    Or if this genuinely is a coincidence, determine how this could happen to front and rear lawns at same time in matter of weeks when the neighbours “control” lawn is unaffected. 
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 80,549
    edited September 2020
    Info and advice from the RHS

    I think your lawn is dead ... I would start again ... September is the perfect time to seed a new lawn

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,289
    I've never heard of anyone using this product before, so it's impossible for me to say, but it certainly looks that way. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • I should clarify that it wasn’t the suggestion of the company who did the work to get rid of the worms, I sought them out in desperation. We’ve been having the treatment for a couple of years and it’s not been a problem till this year (the sulphur treatment has been for the last 2 years, prior to that it was another treatment). I know you’ve all said that worm casts aren’t a problem but your lawn probably didn’t look like the battle of the Somme! Honestly it was completely unusable and the dogs and kids would tread disgusting slime throughout the house all winter. The lawn was completely covered with casts and they never dried enough to be swept away as the back lawn is in shade a lot of the winter. We felt pushed into a position to get the treatment and it’s been fine up till this year. Even the rhs website lists sulphur as a home remedy for discouraging worms. We just would like to know if anyone else has used this and had a problem.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,289
    The chance are  that there is more likely to be a problem with drainage, if the grass/ground is so bad.
    Shade is also not beneficial for growing grass, and the result will be that the ground tends to be mossy. That, in turn means that any regular footfall will easily churn it up. Mossy lawns aren't really able to be used much over winter. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • LG_LG_ SE LondonPosts: 3,950
    I don't know the answer to your question, but I too think it's too much of a coincidence. However, it needn't be a matter of the sulphur treatment causing the problem per se - you say yourself that it's been alright before. I would also consider contamination of the treatment - either the wrong chemical used, or the wrong dose, or perhaps they used a sprayer / spreader that has previously been used for something else, such as weedkiller. Using chemical treatments is always open to those kinds of error.
    'If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.'
    - Cicero
  • JuliaboswellJuliaboswell Posts: 5
    edited September 2020
    Thanks, we have discussed contamination of the product with the company and this has been dismissed. It was spread by hand so it’s unlikely to be the cause.
    Fairygirl made a point that made me think of something we hadn’t considered though. Up till last spring (2019) we had a huge horse chestnut in the garden that caused the lawn to be in shade a lot. We had it removed as it had got too big for a suburban garden and was encroaching on a neighbour’s property. So this winter was the first without the horse chestnut and there will of course be loads of dying roots under the lawn. Could the combination of change of conditions and dying roots cause the problem?
    this doesn’t account for the front lawn though....
  • SydRoySydRoy Posts: 167
    I think your back garden suffers from poor drainage and is compacted. You will never have a nice usable lawn with heavy foot fall, poor drainage and poor sporadic lawn care.
    The front lawn may also be compacted and I think the tree may be factor in your dead grass. The sulphur has also probably burnt the grass through over application - and is completely unnecessary. 
    IMHO you need to really start from scratch - improve drainage, improve the soil & its structure, sow or lay a "suitable" heavy duty type of grass and maintain it correctly. 
    I'm sorry if this sounds harsh but lawn care tends to be a bit more involved than most people appreciate.

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